At CHOC Children’s, we understand that the experience of a child undergoing surgery can be stressful. Through our pre-surgery tours, a child life specialist will introduce future patients and their families to the hospital environment, procedures and equipment with the goal of reducing the child’s anxieties.
Tours last approximately 30 to 45 minutes depending on the patient’s age and developmental level. While parents are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the tour, the information provided is geared towards the child and include:
- Pictures: Seeing pictures of the actual rooms and given explanations of equipment to alleviate some anxiety. They can see pictures of the pre-surgery room, surgery room, and recover room prior to surgery.
- Medical Play: This “hands on” experience will allow children to become familiar with the medical equipment they are likely to come in contact with during their stay. Equipment may include stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, needle-less syringes and more.
- Tour: A tour of the hospital units where your child is likely to stay can be given
Preparing Children for Surgery
Preparing your child for surgery is important. The Child Life Department recommends that you contact them at (714) 509-8473 at least 10 days prior to the scheduled surgery date. A child life specialist will return the call to assess the family’s needs, age and developmental level of patient and than schedule an appropriate date for a tour. When calling the Child Life Office please include the following information so that a specialist can assess the needs more quickly:
- Patient’s name, age, and gender
- Developmental considerations (for example any delay in development)
- Specific fears the child may have about the hospital
- Prior hospitalizations or surgeries
- What the child already knows or understand about the surgery
- Any issues regarding the surgery that should not be mentioned
- Lab dates or any other doctor appointments
Child life specialists help reduce patients’ anxiety prior to surgery by:
- Gathering information about your child’s procedure and understanding why he or she needs surgery
- Being honest and sensitive when your child asks questions about his or her surgery
- Encouraging curiosity and exploration
- Reassuring the patient that undergoing the procedure is not a punishment and that the doctors and nurses are there to help
- Using simple language to describe the procedure to the patient
- Listening to the child’s concerns
- Allowing the child to take an active role in preparing for the procedure